Television

Murdoch's India visit confirmed

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After Star TV Executive Chairman Gareth Chang's recent resignation, and NewsCorp Arthur Anderson officials have visited India twice to asses the value of Star TV, NewsCorp Chairman Rupert Murdoch plans a five day India visit starting 10th March. His wife Wendy Deng and son James, NewsCorp's Vice President of Music and New Media will accompany him.

The trip is expected to kick off with a two days in Bangalore, where he expects to kickstart NewsCorp's joint venture with Pramod Mittal's Ispat Group company eVentures. eVentures has already invested in two portals recently. Net Access, a Delhi based e-business service provider, where eVentures has invested about US$ 1.75 million acquiring a 26 equity.

The joint venture has also acquired 100 percent equity in netpligrims.com, a web based placement service provider. Besides eVentures deals, Star TV plans 10 to 20 percent in popular portals. The net plans to extend synergies between broadcasting and the Internet, "to increase our access to content and tap the traffic which comes on various sites on the Internet," said News television India Ltd.'s CEO Peter Mukerjea in a newspaper interview. The strategy is via the mergers and acquisitions route, and plans are to for multi-point distribution including the Internet and mobile communications.

Besides, Murdoch will visit Bombay "to meet his office people" as a spokesman puts it. Also appointments are being arranged with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley, Minister for Information technology Pramod Mahajan and Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi.

Murdoch's visit, the first since June 1996 when he met Deve Gowda gains significance. The importance of India in it's Asian strategy is apparent. NewsCorp has doubled it's content related investment in India over the next five years. An additional US$ 20 million this year has for it's Indian operation. Murdoch will seeks a first hand view impression on the Broadcast bill including DTH and other regulatory issues, besides it's proposed Internet /mobile investments in India.

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